"NHS versus NHS 111"

About: Care UK Lincoln County Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as the patient),

I have suffered occasional ectopic heartbeats for more than thirty years. Over the past month, "occasional" has changed from two or three times a day to two or three times a minute. I rang 111 to see if this was cause for concern. I was advised to "Go to A&E within the next hour. Do not drive. "

I presented myself at A&E, related the above tale, to be met with rolling of eyes and weary shaking of heads. It seems my problem, much as I suspected, was NOT urgent. I have absolutely no complaint against A&E at Lincoln Hospital. I was seen promptly, with due respect and courtesy. It feels like there is a vast disparity between two branches of the NHS and how they react to my symptoms. NHS 111 are making work for A&E. That cannot be in anyone's best interest.

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Response from United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Dear MickL,

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, I am pleased we were able to allay your fears when you attended A&E and it is nice to read that you feel you were treated with respect and courtesy.

Karen Hansord – A&E Sister

Response from Polly Bryant, Senior Marketing Executive – Secondary Care, Health Care Division, Care UK

Firstly, we are very glad that your condition turned out not to be life-threatening and that this diagnosis was achieved in a timely manner by the local NHS system working effectively together. All our health advisors and clinical advisors working within our NHS 111 centres are fully trained using NHS Pathways, the national diagnostics tool developed by the medical Royal Colleges for use by the NHS 111 service. This involves asking a number of key questions which give an indicator as to the possible seriousness of the patient’s condition. The system will, we feel quite rightly (and believe most patients would agree), always err on the side of caution. There are going to be examples where that caution ultimately proved not to be fully necessary but we believe those cases are relatively rare and a price worth paying to maximise patient safety.

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Update posted by MickL (the patient)

The discussions I have subsequently had with professionals both at the hospital and local medical centre confirm my initial thoughts: I thought the one hour deadline was ludicrous overkill; waste of my time and theirs.